Freelance by Jen

Consider me the No More Tangles of your writing needs.

Dear Movies,

Hi. Wow, this is really crazy, I can’t believe I’m actually writing you.

Let me just say, first of all, long-time watcher, first-time caller, if you know what I mean. And by that I mean I’m absolutely not going to call you. I DO NOT LIKE phone calls. I’ll put it right on speaker and walk away, and chances are great that I can’t pay attention longer than five minutes.

Make that three. I don’t know why I just tried to lie to you!

I’m sorry, baby.

Let’s start over. I have loved you since the first time I saw you, probably. I don’t remember what the first movie I ever saw WAS, of course, but I have a lot of memories dating back to 1982, the year I turned 7. My dad bought a shuttered old movie theater and renovated it to modern splendor. I remember the first movie I loved at a theater (1983’s Mr. Mom) and the first movie I loved roasting with someone in a theater (my dad, Brainstorm with Christopher Walken, also 1983).

To direct people to you, I came up with my first marketing idea that same year, to make signs with arrows pointing to each theater with the movie playing on them listed underneath. I learned how to clean a theater, and a public bathroom, before I was 10, and it DIDN’T EVEN MATTER because I got to be in a movie theater with no one around.

That might be why projection booths never scared me – it was all part of the mystery, the romance, the allure. A darkened movie theater and projection area was never scary. It felt like home.

I learned that BORs were Box Office reports. I learned about inventory. And I learned about popcorn. So much popcorn. I grew to hate popcorn, particularly the smell of burnt popcorn when the old machine rebelled, but never once did it make me not want to be there.

One of the funniest family memories I have, one that we still reference to this day, happened when I was dealing with that damned popcorn machine. My aunt Gail had just gotten some new pets, and my little brother couldn’t wait to tell me. He burst into the crowded lobby, spotted me at the machine, and yelled “Jennifer! Jennifer! AUNT GAIL’S GOT CRABS!”

It wouldn’t have been nearly as funny without 50 people as witnesses, pretty much all of whom burst into laughter. See, we could do our own pre-shows.

As a teenager, I grew tired of being behind the counter, and left you for tennis and general debauchery. But I’d come back for dates and stuff. Even then, though, I got mad at anyone who didn’t respect the experience. I shushed my friends, I nudged my dates. I perfected my resting bitch face with loud movie neighbors.

As an adult, I stayed away for quite awhile, even though I could attend for free. I was working, or didn’t want to bring my small child, or whatever excuse. But then when I was in grad school, I returned to you as a manager. And there has been no looking back since.

At first, I stuck with comedies. I guess cartoons, too, but with them I was pretty set on the same Disney rotation – The Fox and the Hound, Lady and the Tramp, and my favorite, Sleeping Beauty (because of the three fairies, definitely, but mainly because of the cake scene). I acted out Maleficent’s evil entrance so many times.

BEFORE THE SUN SETS ON HER 16TH BIRTHDAY, SHE WILL PRICK HER FINGER ON THE SPINDLE OF A SPINNING WHEEL…AND DIE!

MALEFICENT, SLEEPING BEAUTY, 1959

I used to really want people to invite me to christenings and first birthday parties for girl babies so I could do that, just to see their faces, but 1) they never did so 2) I never did.

Once my son graduated and I moved out of my hometown, I came to miss the ability to see free movies (a LOT). But then, Alamo Drafthouse came to town, and I got to return. I got to work in a movie theater, coming up with ways to get people to come to a movie theater.

I don’t think I will ever be convinced that there is a job I love more, that is better suited to who I am in my soul.

I watched what I had considered a lot of movies up to this year, but was still way behind my colleagues. I didn’t understand how they had the TIME to watch so many movies. I really, really wanted that kind of time.

So I started 2020 with the vow to see every movie that came out in theaters all year. And I was doing great.

Until the movies died.

Nobody ever saw this coming, and nobody was prepared. That’s what has made my time away from you easier – we’re all in this together. We’re all struggling. We’re all trying to find our way. And none of us can see you.

But that time I was wishing for? I have it now.

I log every movie I’ve watched this year on a site called Letterboxd (I’m CMJen), and the number has climbed quite a bit in the month I’ve been away. I’m at 111 films this year, and a lot of them were even good.

I’ve learned that I really can’t seem to make myself like many musicals, and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do on classics and horror movies. I still love comedies, and any movie centering around a news room is going to be a hit for me. Documentaries are still probably my favorite genre. But I’m pushing myself and my movie preferences every day, and I’ve gotten a lot of rewards from that.

While I can’t wait to get back to your house, I am still really grateful you can come to mine. I’ve utilized every streaming service old and new in my pursuit of you, and am so glad I have the resources to do so.

But I’m getting away from myself. What I really wanted to say is thank you. Thank you for providing something that helps people travel without moving, experience life without having to have a whole lot of money, and learn about so much more than their immediate surroundings.

I love you, and I miss you. There will never be anything like watching a movie on the big screen with fellow movie lovers.

Ever devoted,

Jen

Movie of the day: Jim & Andy The Great Beyond, Netflix: Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman for the movie Man on the Moon, which was absolutely brilliant.

Show of the Day: Cooked with Cannabis (holy elevated levels), Netflix

Tree of the Day: the Bonsai, because I haven’t been outside. If you want to trim your hair, slap your hand away and trim your bonsai instead.

It’s just so cute.

2 thoughts on “An Ode to Movies: My 2020 Love Letter

  1. Sue Ellen Novak says:

    Thanks for the memories.

    Like

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